[javaee-spec users] [jsr342-experts] Re: security manager requirements in Java EE

From: Markus Eisele <>
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2012 06:18:47 +0100

Hi Bill,

thanks for the new proposal. Reads good. Even if I still have my
reservations as expressed in the earlier mail.
Here are some more thoughts and questions:

1) Why are we trying to put this into xml?
What about this:
    grant { permission "/temp/abc", "read", "write"; }

The policy file syntax is ugly but if we depend on this we shouldn't
try to hide that fact too much.
Or do you know more about how this is going to look like in the future?

2) What about property expansion?
Do we want/allow something like this:
    grant { permission "${user.home}/temp/abc",
"read", "write"; }

3) Last and simple one. If this is going to stay xml I would love to
have short tag names and add a description to the set.
<permissions> <grant-request> <description <classname <name <actions


On 14 March 2012 18:53, Bill Shannon <> wrote:
> Since the little feedback we got seemed to support the proposals below,
> we've prepared a more complete proposal for your review.  Let us know
> what you think.
> Thanks.
> Bill Shannon wrote on 03/08/12 16:01:
>> It's been almost a month and we've gotten very little feedback on the
>> questions I asked below. I hope this isn't an indication that this
>> expert group has little interest in security issues. :-(
>> Given this lack of feedback, we're assuming *all* of you support *all*
>> of the proposals below. We'll be moving forward accordingly.
>> Thanks.
>> Bill Shannon wrote on 02/10/2012 02:01 PM:
>>> Security has always been a key part of the Java EE platform.
>>> From the beginning we defined the Java security permissions
>>> that an application should expect to have, and we expected
>>> that application servers would want to control what permissions
>>> applications should have. Several releases ago we clarified
>>> the requirements so that application servers may run without a
>>> security manager. This was commonly used in development environments,
>>> and in non-Java EE application servers such as Tomcat.
>>> Unfortunately, what we failed to do was to make it clear that
>>> Java EE applications servers were also required to be able to
>>> run *with* a security manager, and to be able to enforce Java
>>> security permissions.
>>> ***** Unless there are objections, we intend to make this
>>> ***** requirement explicit in the EE 7 spec.
>>> One of the reasons this issue comes up is that some library and
>>> framework developers seem to assume that they can do anything
>>> they want with any Java API. Users then complain when these
>>> libraries or frameworks don't work in an application server that
>>> uses a security manager.
>>> A degenerate way that an application server could meet the requirement
>>> to be able to run with a security manager would be to simply grant
>>> all applications all permissions all the time. Obviously that
>>> wouldn't address the core problem. Thus, we believe we also need
>>> a clear requirement that the application server be able to
>>> *restrict* the set of permissions granted to an application.
>>> Defining a requirement in this area is a bit tricky. While it
>>> might seem attractive to require that an application server be
>>> able to run applications with *only* the minimum permissions
>>> defined in the spec, it's possible that there could be product
>>> specific (non-standard) permissions that are needed. Still,
>>> it seems like it would be good to define some boundaries here.
>>> ***** Would you support a requirement to be able to run
>>> ***** applications with a restricted set of permissions?
>>> We think it's especially likely that a Java EE cloud product
>>> will use a security manager to maintain control over the
>>> operational environment. Remember, our target is PaaS, not
>>> Middleware over IaaS:
>>> In a true PaaS environment, application permissions are likely
>>> to be restricted to only what's needed. In such an environment,
>>> it may be useful to know if the application needs any permissions
>>> beyond the minimum that the platform spec guarantees.
>>> Something we've been considering for quite some time is to provide
>>> a way for an application to include a list of these additional
>>> permissions it needs. The platform implementation could then
>>> evaluate these permissions and ensure that the application is
>>> granted what it needs, or reject deployment of the application.
>>> ***** Would you support including such a capability in Java EE?
>>> Other than the first item above, we're not sure how many of these
>>> items we can address for EE 7, but we wanted to see if there was
>>> support in principle for these items before we moved forward.
>>> Let us know what you think.